What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
Starting5
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 8:00 am

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby Starting5 » Sat Aug 08, 2009 8:09 am

A couple responses to your post, Tinman: Lay prestige had been brought up in the thread, as Helmholtz noted, so the Gallup Poll is probably the most reliable indicator of both lay prestige (the 1st Gallup Poll), as well as "educated" prestige (the 2nd Gallup Poll). And lay prestige, or even "educated" prestige, IMO, is a poor reason to choose any school. If you're at the level of HYS for law school, then among those three, I think it comes down to a very personal decision for each individual applicant, probably based on a number of factors.

I disagree with your seeming dismissal of Engineering schools when comparing Harvard and Stanford. I trust you meant that Engineering Schools couldn't be compared between Harvard and Stanford (or Yale), and you are correct--because Harvard and Yale don't have Engineering Schools, and possess only relatively-modest Engineering programs. I think this, too, plays a part in the perspectives among the more-educated group that Gallup polled. Given the relative importance engineering--and fields like computer science--hold in our society, I think that Stanford's #2 ranked (Graduate) Engineering School (behind only MIT, with Berkeley a "close" 3rd) is significant to people in Gallup's more-educated group. No university can offer every graduate degree, but given the importance of engineering and science, I admire Stanford's all-around excellence in so many important fields (including law). I would venture to guess that there is no other university in the country, perhaps in the world, that can rival Stanford's overall excellence in so many important fields, with engineering being an area in which Harvard (and Yale), for all intents and purposes, don't currently compete--although Harvard may ultimately try. Had I been accepted to Stanford (alas, I was not), for either undergrad or grad school, I think it likely I would have attended. And I live (and grew-up) in the Northeast. But I admire their consistent excellence across so many (significant) academic fields, as well as all the interdisciplinary opportunities Stanford provides (including the law school). These interdisciplinary opportunities are so attractive largely because the university has so many (very) highly-ranked schools and departments across so many fields.

Finally, I understand your HYP comment re: undergraduate education, as it's sometimes bantied about on boards like this one (as is HYPS). And yet, you yourself noted that the first Gallup Poll (as good a proxy for lay prestige as I've seen) likely represented the general population's view of the relative prestige of undergraduate schools. In that poll, Harvard (as we'd expect) finished comfortably in front. But it was Yale and Stanford tied for second, nationally--not Princeton--which finished tied for fifth, and with less than half the mentions of Stanford and Yale. (This would suggest that "HYS" would be an easy acronym for both Law Schools and undergraduate schools.) Personally, I am of the view that what "hurts" Princeton (as well the great LACs) in both the Gallup Polls is its (relative) lack of graduate programs.

User avatar
tinman
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:17 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby tinman » Sat Aug 08, 2009 2:44 pm

kjunfood wrote:

seriously, no one has any idea? everyone just props up harvard as the best w/o a specific reason why? maybe a special program they have that is the best in the nation? maybe _____ professor that is amazing in _____ field? i mean, i guess we can all 'assume' harvard has some of the best programs for something in the nation and has some of the best professors in some field in the nation, but honestly...no one here knows any specifics?

is it just based on big law chances? because then columbia in NY is just as good of a choice as harvard...

...academia? well then what specifically about harvard gives such a good boost to those interested in academia? etc.


Kjunfood, I see that none of us has really answered your questions, at least not the way you want. So I'll try explain what makes Harvard Law better than the schools ranked 3 and lower by USNews. I'll first give some facts and other accepted statements about HLS (some of them, i.e., prestige, alumi network, etc., have already been mentioned). Then, I will give you my personal view of what makes Harvard great, which seems to be what you asking for. For what it's worth, I spent six years at Harvard, three while living next to the law school, so I know Harvard better than any 0L ever should:)

Generally accepted facts and statements about HLS that contribute to its greatness:
1. More top professors. Compared to Y, S, and the other schools contending for the top spots, they simply have more faculty. This leads to more classes, more clinics, more subfields where H can be the top school. You asked for specific strengths of HLS, but its real strength is that it's good (or at least it has top professors [after six years at Harvard I have to qualify this]) in many areas of law, more areas than any of the other top schools.
2. More students. It's the largest of all the schools at the upper end of the top 14. This means, more journals to join, more clubs, and it also leads to ...
3. Largest alumni network of the very top schools. In this case, largest may equal most powerful and most helpful
4. National prestige (I think this has been covered sufficiently in this thread)
5. International prestige (anywhere else in the world, people will think you went to the best law school in the US).
6. Best visiting faculty, best visiting speakers (this can be contributed to 1-5).
7. Ability to go to speakers, take classes, and interact with students from Harvard's other graduate schools, which are in general quite stellar.

I could go on, but here is my personal perspective:
I took a class at HLS taught by Martha Minow. The class was great. She was great. But, in my opinion, the best students in the class where no the law students (they were the graduate students from various departments). At Yale, I imagine the situation would be reversed). Hmmm, this isn't really what I thought I would say ... In all honesty, I think HLS is the best law school in the world, better than Stanford and even Yale, but I don't think it's the best place to go to law school (I think Y, S, and probably a few others others offer substantially better educations and experiences). The best part of being at HLS as a student, in my opinion, is that it's one part of the richest, most powerful educational instutitution in the world.

User avatar
tinman
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:17 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby tinman » Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:18 pm

Starting5 wrote:A couple responses to your post, Tinman ... And lay prestige, or even "educated" prestige, IMO, is a poor reason to choose any school. If you're at the level of HYS for law school, then among those three, I think it comes down to a very personal decision for each individual applicant, probably based on a number of factors.


Thanks for your post. I mostly agree with what you are saying, but I want to respond to a few points. First, if your goals in life are to make your mother proud, make a lot of money, and impress people you meet at bars, then I think it makes sense to go with lay prestige. Personally, I would rather impress potential employers, and I think YLS and SLS are better for that.

I disagree with your seeming dismissal of Engineering schools when comparing Harvard and Stanford. I trust you meant that Engineering Schools couldn't be compared between Harvard and Stanford (or Yale).... I admire Stanford's all-around excellence in so many important fields (including law). I would venture to guess that there is no other university in the country, perhaps in the world, that can rival Stanford's overall excellence in so many important fields, with engineering being an area in which Harvard (and Yale), for all intents and purposes, don't currently compete--although Harvard may ultimately try. Had I been accepted to Stanford (alas, I was not), for either undergrad or grad school, I think it likely I would have attended. ... These interdisciplinary opportunities are so attractive largely because the university has so many (very) highly-ranked schools and departments across so many fields
.

About engineering, Stanford certainly trumps Harvard and Yale. But I think Harvard is by far the best educational institution in the world. And I think it's fair to consider that MIT is closer to Harvard than most of Stanford is to itself. Undergraduates and graduates can easily cross register in courses, and even PhD students easily move between Harvard and MIT (I was a PhD student at Harvard's main campus and Harvard med school, and this was true for both places). Also, harvard is afiliated with tons of research and medical centers in the area, and students and faculty easily flow back and forth between the various parts of Harvard and its affiliated institutions. In biology, I think Stanford is currently ranked ahead of Harvard. But I didn't apply there for grad school (I did for law school), and I think that the rankings are misleading. I have tons of respect for Stanford; in fact, I think it's the second best university in the world. But I think Harvard is far better, including for most of the sciences. And with MIT just down the block and so much cross-institutional collaboration I don't think the small size of Harvard's engineering school is a weakness at all.

Finally, I understand your HYP comment re: undergraduate education, as it's sometimes bantied about on boards like this one (as is HYPS). And yet, you yourself noted that the first Gallup Poll (as good a proxy for lay prestige as I've seen) likely represented the general population's view of the relative prestige of undergraduate schools. In that poll, Harvard (as we'd expect) finished comfortably in front. But it was Yale and Stanford tied for second, nationally--not Princeton--which finished tied for fifth, and with less than half the mentions of Stanford and Yale. (This would suggest that "HYS" would be an easy acronym for both Law Schools and undergraduate schools.) Personally, I am of the view that what "hurts" Princeton (as well the great LACs) in both the Gallup Polls is its (relative) lack of graduate programs.


I think you are right on here.

User avatar
danquayle
Posts: 1108
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:12 am

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby danquayle » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:14 pm

Harvard is good because Harvard has the ultimate 'prestige factor' and law is largely about prestige. You could peg the name Harvard on virtually any other law school, keeping faculty and facilities constant, and that law school would still be considered the best.

Why? Because the name alone attracts the best students, and law firms know that. I believe Scalia himself even has said he recruits clerks from the top law schools merely because they attract the most talented students coming in. It is somewhat irrelevant what they actually do for those 3 years.

Its just a massive positive feedback loop. I guarantee you if Princeton got a law school, it would be top 25, if not t-14, in 20 years. Guaranteed.

Edit: Heres the quote


“By and large, I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, OK?”

http://www.law21.ca/2009/06/12/the-best ... brightest/

Really, they should reform the entire law education process and make it more like a journeyman type profession. Law firms essentially hire those who have the highest LSATs, because those are the ones who are getting into the top schools. I know theres some wiggle room, but thats essentially the reality. So why don't law firms simply hire people out of undergrad based on LSAT scores and train them on the job for those three years, after which they can take the bar. Hell, it was done quite often before.

Instead of letting people waste 3 years of their life in law school, only to find out they lack the intangibles required of a lawyer, why not find out right away? I think it'd be more efficient for law firms too - they'd mitigate the cost of attrition. Hire 20 people at 50k knowing only 10 will make it through the apprenticeship, instead of hiring 10 people at 150k and hoping they stay long enough to turn you a profit. Less of a sunk cost.
Last edited by danquayle on Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Helmholtz
Posts: 4394
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:48 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby Helmholtz » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:18 pm

danquayle wrote:Harvard is good because Harvard has the ultimate 'prestige factor' and law is largely about prestige. You could peg the name Harvard on virtually any other law school, keeping faculty and facilities constant, and that law school would still be considered the best.

Why? Because the name alone attracts the best students, and law firms know that. I believe Scalia himself even has said he recruits clerks from the top law schools merely because they attract the most talented students coming in. It is somewhat irrelevant what they actually do for those 3 years.

Its just a massive positive feedback loop. I guarantee you if Princeton got a law school, it would be top 25, if not t-14, in 20 years. Guaranteed.


It would probably be top 5 within the decade. It would start with incredible assessment scores and attract an incredibly high-quality group of students if not just on the strength of the name. TBH, I would definitely want to go.

User avatar
danquayle
Posts: 1108
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:12 am

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby danquayle » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:24 pm

Helmholtz wrote:
danquayle wrote:Harvard is good because Harvard has the ultimate 'prestige factor' and law is largely about prestige. You could peg the name Harvard on virtually any other law school, keeping faculty and facilities constant, and that law school would still be considered the best.

Why? Because the name alone attracts the best students, and law firms know that. I believe Scalia himself even has said he recruits clerks from the top law schools merely because they attract the most talented students coming in. It is somewhat irrelevant what they actually do for those 3 years.

Its just a massive positive feedback loop. I guarantee you if Princeton got a law school, it would be top 25, if not t-14, in 20 years. Guaranteed.


It would probably be top 5 within the decade. It would start with incredible assessment scores and attract an incredibly high-quality group of students if not just on the strength of the name. TBH, I would definitely want to go.


I agree completely - I was just trying not to be hyperbolic.

Edit: Though, I may be wrong. Yale's SOM seems to rebut this idea. Perhaps business schools are different. Or, perhaps the rankings aren't particularly accurate. But they attract a great student body and haven't cracked the top 10.

Edit, Edit: Looks like Yale is 10 in this year's business school rankings. Is it a newer school? Business schools also seem to be a little more prevalent. If you add in Dartmouth, MIT and the like, then maybe its just more competitive. So maybe it doesn't rebut it at all.
Last edited by danquayle on Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
danquayle
Posts: 1108
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:12 am

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby danquayle » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:26 pm

http://lsi.typepad.com/lsi/2006/12/apprenticeship_.html

At the very least, the third year should be an apprenticeship, a la rotations for doctors, pharmacists, etc.

LawDog3
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:20 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby LawDog3 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:46 pm

art vandelay wrote:Uh, am I misinformed or is it true that in the (admittedly pointless) matter of which T3 is best, Yale usually bests Harvard?

How is Harvard better than Yale?

And don't give me the Obama line. Bill and Hill went to YLS.


And Obama outsmarted them both. :wink: I can't stand elitism, but on Harvard, I have to give it up. It is the most bad-assed school in the country.
Last edited by LawDog3 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LawDog3
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:20 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby LawDog3 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:51 pm

danquayle wrote:
Helmholtz wrote:
danquayle wrote:Harvard is good because Harvard has the ultimate 'prestige factor' and law is largely about prestige. You could peg the name Harvard on virtually any other law school, keeping faculty and facilities constant, and that law school would still be considered the best.

Why? Because the name alone attracts the best students, and law firms know that. I believe Scalia himself even has said he recruits clerks from the top law schools merely because they attract the most talented students coming in. It is somewhat irrelevant what they actually do for those 3 years.

Its just a massive positive feedback loop. I guarantee you if Princeton got a law school, it would be top 25, if not t-14, in 20 years. Guaranteed.


It would probably be top 5 within the decade. It would start with incredible assessment scores and attract an incredibly high-quality group of students if not just on the strength of the name. TBH, I would definitely want to go.


I agree completely - I was just trying not to be hyperbolic.

Edit: Though, I may be wrong. Yale's SOM seems to rebut this idea. Perhaps business schools are different. Or, perhaps the rankings aren't particularly accurate. But they attract a great student body and haven't cracked the top 10.

Edit, Edit: Looks like Yale is 10 in this year's business school rankings. Is it a newer school? Business schools also seem to be a little more prevalent. If you add in Dartmouth, MIT and the like, then maybe its just more competitive. So maybe it doesn't rebut it at all.


Ya. I agree too. Look at UCI. That school will likely top Davis and Hastings within three or four years. It already has a top-10 faculty.

Princeton, Brown, MIT, Cal-Tech, Dartmouth, John's Hopkins...if any of them had law schools, they'd wind up at or near the top, and schools like Texas, WUSTL, Vandy, Georgetown, UCLA, USC and Minnesota would take the back seats (Duke and Cornell would find a way to stay in the top-20).

User avatar
soullesswonder
Posts: 553
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:36 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby soullesswonder » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:11 am

LawDog3 wrote: Look at UCI. That school will likely top Davis and Hastings within three or four years. It already has a top-10 faculty.


That's because Chemerinsky's presence screws with the faculty rankings. You also have to assume that Leiter is correct to project that the prestige of additional faculty hires will be at the same level as the initial non-Chemerinsky hires. In any case, take Chemerinsky out of it and UCI isn't anywhere near the top.

To put it in laymen's terms - one superstar does not make a championship contender. You need sufficient depth of talent and a strong supporting cast. UCI has yet to show that quality.

hiro86
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:10 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby hiro86 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:56 pm

I believe 6 out of the 9 current supreme court justices and our president all went to HLS. So... that's what's so good about it.

jdeman
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:57 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby jdeman » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:03 pm

I asked myself the same thing. I came up with the following ways that show specific courses/clinics that set it apart from every law school, specifically Yale, Stanford, and Columbia.

Harvard v. Yale: Yale seems to have almost nothing in the area of computer law and cybercrime. Harvard has the Cyberlaw Clinic, the High Crimes division of the Government Lawyer Clinic, and several courses relating to computer law.

Harvard v. Stanford: Stanford seems to offer nothing that Harvard does not, and, wow, that government lawyer clinic is killer. Nothing like it at Stanford.

Harvard v. Columbia: Easy. Columbia does not have a Supreme Court Clinic.

For some people, those may not matter or some of them might not matter. For me, all of these three things are very important, and that's why Harvard is my first choice.

HerseyChris
Posts: 315
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:30 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby HerseyChris » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:08 pm

Helmholtz wrote:That smart Asian chick in Old School wanted to go to Columbia.


She was pretty cute too.

Z3RO
Posts: 526
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:57 am

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby Z3RO » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:36 pm

jdeman wrote:I asked myself the same thing. I came up with the following ways that show specific courses/clinics that set it apart from every law school, specifically Yale, Stanford, and Columbia.

Harvard v. Yale: Yale seems to have almost nothing in the area of computer law and cybercrime. Harvard has the Cyberlaw Clinic, the High Crimes division of the Government Lawyer Clinic, and several courses relating to computer law.

Harvard v. Stanford: Stanford seems to offer nothing that Harvard does not, and, wow, that government lawyer clinic is killer. Nothing like it at Stanford.

Harvard v. Columbia: Easy. Columbia does not have a Supreme Court Clinic.

For some people, those may not matter or some of them might not matter. For me, all of these three things are very important, and that's why Harvard is my first choice.

I actually agree with this as the reason (specifically, clinics). When I saw the clinics page on the Harvard website, I fell in love instantly. I was immediately so excited about law school and I begged the fates to grant me mercy for my undergraduate indiscretions.

I've looked high and low, and since found no clinics like those on the Harvard website.

Oh, they also get brownie good will points for creating that employment income calculator.

User avatar
mtyrikos
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:50 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby mtyrikos » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:41 pm

This is what could be good about Harvard.... (if they like my diversity statement)

http://us.movember.com/mospace/55173

And video found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI8QFgMokF8

Thanks everyone - Movember is a fantastic cause.

User avatar
Nom Sawyer
Posts: 933
Joined: Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:28 am

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby Nom Sawyer » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:43 pm

For me its really class size... like everyone says the smaller classes of SLS and YLS are great, but that just seems way too small for me (I mean that's 1/3 of my high school class). With 550 Harvard just seems like you have a lot more people to meet and greater chance of finding a group you really connect with, instead of like 2-3 people.

So that, and also its closer to Canada...

User avatar
sayan
Posts: 316
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:05 am

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby sayan » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:16 am

SolarWind wrote:For me its really class size... like everyone says the smaller classes of SLS and YLS are great, but that just seems way too small for me (I mean that's 1/3 of my high school class). With 550 Harvard just seems like you have a lot more people to meet and greater chance of finding a group you really connect with, instead of like 2-3 people.

So that, and also its closer to Canada...


I agree.

I've been in classes of over 300 and seminars with under 25 and to me there is no difference. I learned the same. I spoke more often in the seminar classes but the discussion was trivial and more to score brownie points with the prof. I learn very well on my own so asking questions is generally pointless for me. If I want a discussion, I'll catch the prof at office hours.

A larger alumni network and more students to meet (higher likelihood of meeting some good friends) makes HLS a better choice for me IMO. The legal field prestige placed on YLS is also overblown IMO. Let's look at it this way: it's probably easier to be Magna Cum Laude at HLS than it is at YLS and I can guarantee you a HLS Magna > YLS Cum Laude. Of course if you're an academic god, the comparison is nil but alas I am not :p

User avatar
kurama20
Posts: 675
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 5:04 pm

Re: What's so good about Harvard? Specifically

Postby kurama20 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:21 am

What really makes Harvard so incredible is the ming boggling strength of their alumni network, and how they dominate every facet of the law: clerkships, firm jobs, academia, public interest, government. There is really no important facet in which Harvard is weak. The other thing is that if you get tired of the law, a HLS degree opens so many doors in other fields that you probably won't even need another degree. Their alumin network doesn't just include more judges and supreme court justices than any other school---but people all throughout the Forbes list and politics. A Harvard JD is probably the most flexible degree available....... the closest thing being a HBS MBA.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 1 guest